Update: Moments before this story was published, Devo’s official website was suddenly blocked by Google (screenshot), ostensibly for malware. The band’s official Twitter account confirmed to Raw Story that their site had been hacked.
To Jerry Casale, co-creator of new wave electro-rock group Devo, the 2012 presidential election is as much of a “false choice” as choosing between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. To express his frustration, Casale told Raw Story in an exclusive interview that he wants the world to do just one thing: remember Seamus the dog.
Yes, Devo releasing a song based on Mitt Romney’s horrible mistake some 20+ years ago of crating his dog Seamus and tying him to the roof of his car for a family road trip, stopping to hose the poor creature down after it literally defecated all over the car in fear. But it’s not (entirely) what you think.
Casale doesn’t believe mentioning — or in his case, singing about — Seamus is a purely partisan line of attack. Instead, he calls Romney’s long-deceased dog a “martyr” whose unassuming honesty could just be the thing that saves us all.
“We thought Seamus was a put-upon martyr in a time when there’s such horrible partisan chicanery and pettiness and gridlock in a presidential year,” he said. “We thought, given the truth and honesty that dogs represent, that Seamus was a much better candidate than either of the frontrunners in the two political parties.”
Of course, he added: “This story shows Romney’s fatal character flaw. Anyone who’s ever loved children or loved animals knows how insane that story is, and he didn’t even deny it… That tells me there’s something at his core that’s a little bit, you know, androidal, like emotionless and androidal? Like an angry guy is behind that smile.”
Casale said the inspiration for Devo’s new song “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro” first came to him after he helped launch a website called “Remember Seamus,” offering Seamus-themed merchandise with an Obama-flavored graphic. That’s when he discovered a Facebook group called “Dogs Against Romney” had grown to more than 70,000 members. So he reached out.
“So I spoke with [Dogs Against Romney creator] Scott Crider, who’s doing a great job, and he said ‘Why don’t you write a song about Seamus?’ I laughed and didn’t think much about it. Two days later… I brought it up [to the band] and everybody was amenable. So I started writing some thoughts down and went in the studio and recorded it.”
Creating the music and lyrics, he revisited somewhat familiar rhetorical territory with an obvious reference to a 2007 incident in which University of Florida police shocked student with a stun gun in front of an audience at a speech by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). “Don’t taze me, bro!” the man screams in video of the incident, viewed widely on YouTube.
Casale used “don’t taze me, bro” as a lyric in Devo’s 2010 song “Don’t Shoot [I'm A Man],” but he said “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro” is much different. “It’s just that I always loved that news byte with that kid. It’s just so horrifically funny. I think everybody in America understood it. It had a long life on YouTube. I always felt bad that our song never got any traction. Despite Warner Bros. records, nothing happened. So I thought, let’s bring back a reference to ‘don’t taze me, bro.’ I’m allowed to do that.”
Once they had the song, Casale and fellow Devo-tees were approached by Dallas-based mobile videogame maker Censault LLC, asking to insert their music into a game satirizing Seamus’s fateful ride atop Romney’s car. Now less than two weeks from the game’s release, Casale said that Devo is even in talks to create a Seamus-themed music video using the game’s art-style.
But he wants listeners to remember, it’s not just about whether Romney is fit to be president. “A world-weary person knows they’re being fed false choices all the time,” Casale said. “The choice now for president, and has been for quite some time, the difference between Pepsi and Coke. There is no freedom of choice. Both candidates are completely owned by global corporations and special interests, because they would never, ever let anyone into office if they weren’t completely vetted by the real people who run things. We don ‘t have a democracy, we have a plutocracy, and [with the Citizens United decision] the Supreme Court just opened the door to complete cynicism because you can literally buy the elections. It’s grotesque.”
“A dog doesn’t lie,” Casale continued. “A dog does no harm. Compared to so many mean-spirited, nasty, psychotic humans, they have more right to be on this planet that half of those people.”
Correction: A prior version of this story featured a photo of Casale’s band-mate Mark Mothersbaugh.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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